How Rack-supported Mezzanines Benefit Distribution Centers
Different types of mezzanines can be highly beneficial when used in different types of facilities and warehouses. For instance, a rack-supported mezzanine is commonly used in distribution centers because of the numerous advantages it provides. These mezzanines are made to be supported by rack uprights as opposed to structural legs, which is why they are oftentimes referred to as catwalk systems.
The walkways on these mezzanines can be used as rack aisles. It’s possible to store products below or above the platform. You can also use it as a component of the pick module system. Hand-stacked beams or flow storage can be used for the racks below and above the catwalks.
If your business is currently growing and you need more space to accommodate this growth, using a mezzanine is much more cost-effective when compared to adding to an existing building or moving to a new one. In the following guide, you’ll discover how your distribution center can take advantage of rack-supported mezzanines.
What Are Rack-supported Mezzanines?
A simple way you can add space to your distribution center without needing to make an addition is by implementing a rack-supported mezzanine system. These are affordable solutions that add capacity by using vertical space. The total number of levels in the building varies depending on the operation. In many cases, rack-supported mezzanines have around five-to-six levels of vertical space.
Why Use Rack Structures to Build a Mezzanine?
Warehouse and distribution center managers should consider using rack structures to build a mezzanine because these systems are:
- More effective and economical – Using a rack structure allows you to integrate much more storage in the platform
- More efficient with space – By building upwards as opposed to outwards, you’ll be able to make better use of the space you already have
- Custom engineered – These storage options can be customized to meet your exact specifications
Mezzanine joints and stringers are designed to bolt directly to the upright columns in order to create the mezzanine’s decking. By placing pallet racking below the floor, the support columns are high, which ensures that the mezzanine remains stable and well-anchored.
The main benefit of installing this mezzanine is that you’ll be able to use your warehouse space more efficiently, which effectively increases the amount of square footage in your facility. You’ll also gain extra floor space that can be used as more office space, pallet racks, or work zones.
Expertly Engineered Storage Platforms
The rack-supported mezzanines that you install in your warehouse are designed by engineers who know how to make sure that these structures adhere to the latest building code standards. When you attempt to meet these standards, keep in mind that the columns will need to be rated to support the contents that are being stored on the rack as well as a certain amount of weight.
The mezzanine’s framing members need to be structurally sound in order to meet the necessary requirements. Stringers provide support for the upright columns in a pallet rack. In comparison, joists are made to be factory welded to stringers to make sure that safety and rigidity are enhanced. By following these design standards, your facility should benefit from a mezzanine that’s sturdy and stable.
Components and Design Factors
There are numerous design elements and components that must be considered when designing a rack-supported mezzanine, the primary of which include decking materials, pallet gates, handrailing, and catwalks. Safety components like handrails and kick guards help prevent falls from taking place. Falls in a warehouse can result in severe injury or death.
If you select fireproof decking materials that bolster air circulation, fire hazards should be effectively mitigated. These materials will also make it easier for sprinkler systems in the facility to get through every layer of stored items. Catwalks and pallet gates make the loading and unloading processes much more convenient while also saving labor and time.
When planning your mezzanine, you should also consider moving methods like conveyors or chutes. Standard forklift placement isn’t always possible or safe depending on if you move lighter or heavier loads to and from the mezzanine.
These mezzanines provide you with numerous options on how you can utilize the space above your pallet racks. They are also more affordable than structural mezzanines and can be installed without a considerable amount of downtime.
The Benefits of Rack Supported Mezzanines
Mezzanine racking systems provide numerous advantages to a distribution facility’s operations, the primary of which include high throughput, high density, and high selectivity.
Rack-supported mezzanine systems accommodate multiple unloading and loading areas in a warehouse. These areas can be used simultaneously with the inclusion of pallet drop areas, conveyors, and VRCs.
A clear advantage of using a rack-supported mezzanine is that these systems deliver extra vertical storage that allows you to maximize your space.
These mezzanines can be accessed by numerous employees at a time, which can keep downtime to a minimum throughout the picking process.
Moving Items from Upper Levels to Ground Level
One thing you’ll need to consider when switching from a single-level system to a rack system with multiple levels is what techniques you’ll use to move items from the higher levels down to the ground level to be distributed.
There are a few different material handling systems that can be implemented into rack-supported mezzanine systems. The material handling system that works best in your facility depends on the picking process you use, how much you’re able to alter your picking process, and your overall budget. Below are a few examples of material handling solutions available to you.
Vertical Reciprocating Conveyor
A vertical reciprocating conveyor has an elevator-like design where cartons or pallets of materials are obtained from the highest levels of your mezzanine system.
Conveyor systems are able to be integrated into catwalk systems for easy transport among the upper levels of a mezzanine.
Pallet Drop Area
A pallet drop is a platform found on every level of a mezzanine. Pallets are positioned on this platform via a lift truck, which allows employees to easily load items to specific levels of the mezzanine from the pallet. These devices usually come with a safety gate that keeps employees from falling.
Chutes allow the picker to more efficiently move products from upper levels to the floor levels.
Other Components of Mezzanine Racking Systems
Mezzanine racking systems contain many additional components that keep employees safe and provide full functionality. These components include everything from staircases to safety netting.
There are many different types of staircase options that you can select from, which include the angles, tread, step width, risers, and number of rails.
Handrails are regularly implemented to enhance employee safety and prevent falls.
The various flooring options that can be used in a rack-supported mezzanine include corrugated decking, open steel planking, concrete, resin board, and bar grading. Each floor type accommodates different operational features and functions.
Gates can be implemented into any rack-supported mezzanine to expedite material handling. The various options at your disposal include sliding gates, single-swing gates, double-swing gates, safety pivot gates, and lift-out safety gates.
Safety netting improves the overall safety of your employees and stored materials. Once this netting has been installed, stored items should never fall to the lower level from the upper one.
Flue keepers are able to be attached to uprights in order to ensure the proper transverse flue space. These items keep cartons and pallets from impinging in the flue space.
Kickplates are able to be implemented to ensure that employees who are walking on the upper levels of a mezzanine don’t trip. This benefit is provided by eliminating the amount of space that exists between row ends and aisles. These plates are typically meant to be installed along a mezzanine’s upper levels at every main aisle and aisle row end.
Do You Need a Rack-supported Mezzanine System?
Many distribution centers will benefit from having a rack-supported mezzanine system installed. These systems give you the ability to reduce the amount of unused vertical space that exists in your warehouse. This option may be preferable to adding storage space or moving to a new building.
If your building stores a higher number of cartons, this system accommodates high selectivity and density of carbon storage across every level. If you currently have bottleneck issues with your picking process, this system may be perfect for you and your situation. In the event that pickers are waiting for other pickers to finish their task, the inclusion of this system in your warehouse makes it much easier for pickers to be located in the same aisle at the exact same time.
Why Choose QMH?
Our team at QMH knows which solutions to select for any type of warehouse or distribution center. We’re responsive, fast, and relentless, which is why you can be confident that any solution we deliver will meet your needs. Call us today if you have any questions about rack-supported mezzanine systems and how to install them in your facility.